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Revealing video gets longtime Vegas magician banned from Magic Castle

Updated March 12, 2024 - 7:03 pm

Rare is the afternoon magician who falls into TMZ’s feed, especially during Oscar coverage.

But Murray Sawchuck of Laugh Factory at the Tropicana is no ordinary matinee headliner.

The long-running Vegas performer, dating some 22 years, is also a cunning marketer. He’s spun a suspension from a mecca of magic into a wave of publicity.

Backstory: Sawchuck and his wife, the showgirl Dani Elizabeth (a former member of the “Crazy Girls” cast), have produced and posted a video of the magician performing acts from his show.

As the magician finishes each trick, his wife-sidekick reveals how the routine is executed, rolling her eyes and leaving Sawchuck dumbstruck.

Very cute. Except, of course, that exposing how illusions are achieved is verboten in the magic culture. Sawchuck has been subsequently reprimanded by the Magic Castle, forbidden to perform at the iconic venue in Hollywood and (for the moment) not permitted to enter the building. This is according to the Academy of Magical Arts, which operates Magic Castle.

That body is investigating complaints from Sawchuck’s fellow magicians that he has been “exposing magic online,” a violation of Magic Castle’s membership rules.

Sawchuck said Monday he is performing with tricks he owns, giving him license to modify and expose them as he pleases. “This is for entertainment,” he says. “I’m in the business of selling tickets and getting attention. And whatever you say about it, millions of people have watched that clip and been entertained.”

Sawchuck has achieved that, with 50 million views on the FB video and a pop by TMZ.

Sawchuck’s fellow magicians take umbrage, of course. Veteran Vegas magician Rudy Coby (who has been featured in “Late Night Magic” when the show was at Alexis Park) posted, “FB views isn’t the same as selling tickets. Exposing other people’s creations is the issue here — it’s a (lousy) way to try and grab attention.”

Coby noted that Xavier Mortimer’s five billion views on social media were not enough to keep Mortimer’s wonderful “The Dream” show from closing at The Strat.

Sawchuck counts 35 performances at The Magic Castle. Set that against 50 million views on social media. No contest. But as I’ve noted on social media, I don’t like, and don’t endorse, exposing magic acts online. It spoils the effect for fans. It can potentially harm professional entertainers. Magicians will forever debate the ethics. What is inarguable is the result of the exposure, in the millions, and for some it’s worth the price.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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